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The History of Toy Soldiers (Hardback)

Wargaming Collectables P&S History Modelling Photographic Books Colour Books Military

By Luigi Toiati, Preface by James Opie
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 621
Illustrations: 600
ISBN: 9781473897298
Published: 17th July 2019

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Humans have made and collected toy soldiers from time immemorial. They amuse and comfort us, awaken our curiosity, turn aggressiveness into creativity. In The History of Toy Soldiers, Luigi Toiati, himself an avid collector and manufacturer of toy soldiers, conveys and shares the pleasure of collecting and playing with them. Far from a dry encyclopaedia, it leads the reader through the fascinating evolution of the toy soldier from ancient times to the early twenty-first century. The author, as a sociologist with an interest in semiotics (the study of signs), offers truly original insights into why different types of toy soldiers were born in a given period and country, or why in a given size and material. The author's writing is packed with factual detail about the different types of toy (and model) soldiers and their manufacturers, but also with anecdotes, nostalgia, wit and his enduring passion for the subject. Hundreds of beautiful colour photographs, many depicting the author's own collection, complete this delightful book.

I actually suggest not reading the book from cover to cover, but instead opening it, picking a random page and reading about the figures that appear. It is a great journey of exploration — and one that should provide much entertainment to anyone interested in toy soldiers.

If you know someone who loves toy soldiers, this would be a great choice for a gift.

Read the full review here

Miniature Wargaming

Toy soldiers have been used for centuries by children, soldiers and collectors, celebrated by this comprehensive history. For anyone with any interest in the subject this is a must buy book – Most Highly Recommended.

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Firetrench

As featured on Old Barbed Wire Blog

Old Barbed Wire Blog

What a fascinating book. This large book, with over 600 pages, is quite excellent. We usually think of the 'toy soldier' as a toy for children, with glossy paint and looking very colourful. This takes the story much further back, as model soldiers were found in some form as far back as the Egyptians and the Romans. We see how they have evolved over the years, and been made from clay, wood, metal and even paper, before getting to the plastic offerings of more recent years... A beautifully presented book, a very useful reference and a really interesting read as well.

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Military Model Scene, Robin Buckland

I really love this book. It's huge and has so much information that you'll probably find yourself going through it several times. The first time I went through it, I scanned the chapters while looking at the great photos of the soldiers. The second time was spent reading the chapters that caught my eye and interest. I've finished my third pass and I'm sure I'll continue to pick it up to peruse it. Toiati has such a great leisurely and fun writing style. He ends the book in his friendly style with "I am now situated in Rugby, in the East Midlands. If you are passing, please call and we can talk soldiers together. I'll put the kettle on".

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Military History Online

This amazing book traces the history of toy soldiers from the earliest times to the present day. Lavishly illustrated, it is inspiring and inspirational. The sheer variety of what was and is available not only to collectors but to todays' children and enthusiasts is awe-inspiring. A must-have must-read Bible for lovers of toy history and in particular toy soldiers. Absolutely glorious!

Books Monthly

This book is undoubtedly a labour of love and written by an apparent expert in his field. It is both encyclopaedic in function and specialised in its subject; a volume to ‘dip into’ rather than read in a conventional way. As a result, its likely-readership will be those with a specific interest in the subject. To such individuals the work may achieve ‘Standard Reference Work’ status. Its unusual subject may also have curiousity value to readers of a more generalist nature.

Keith Rimmer, NZ Crown Mines

This is a book that will get you gasping: ‘I had those!’ or ‘I always wanted one of them!’ and will bring memories flooding back.
It is a collection of essays looking at individual manufacturers and companies with plenty of anecdotes about the period and the figures. If you get into the chapters that illustrate a key moment in your toy soldier life then you’ll be catapulted back into the past.

Hoplite Association

The text is extremely readable, almost conversational, and will probably end up being dipped into rather than read cover to cover. Some of the makers stories have the authors personal reminiscences included. Many manufacturers, large and small** are covered in the text, with all the well known names amongst the lesser known. All sizes are covered including wargame figures and large scale plastic kits such as those from Airfix and Aurora. Even the terracotta warriors get a mention in passing... I can really recommend that anyone who enjoys toy/model soldier history should get a copy for their shelves.

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Steam, Steel and Torpedoes

Having recently decided to engage in the hobby of toy soldiers, this book is exactly what I wanted to gain some insight into the history and the background to understand something of the depth of the subject. It is written in a style that is egalitarian with no scent of snobbery about any particular type or method of construction and it is a very welcoming book. As well as describing the rare and wonderful it also includes plastic mass produced products that rightly have their place in the hobby. Well indexed by manufacturer; having explored it once it becomes a reference book to dip into. The passion of the author for his subject shines through. Fascinating reading.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About Luigi Toiati

Luigi Toiati cannot remember a time before he collected toy soldiers. He has a massive collection but doesn't keep count. He was a professional figure painter for 45 years, starting his career in London, working for his close friend Edward Suren, creator of the famous Willie brand of soldiers. In 1987 he began making his own soldiers, founding Garibaldi & Co. Toy Soldiers. A familiar figure on the toy soldier show circuit, he and his collection have been mentioned in various books on the subject, and he has himself written numerous articles on related matters. He has a degree in Sociology and a deep interest in Semiotics (the study of signs). He now lives in his native Rome with Monica, his wife and co-founder of their marketing research agency, Focus srl www.focusresearch.it).


About James Opie

James Opie is the toy soldier consultant to Bonham's auctioneers and recognized as one of the world's leading experts on the subject. He has a very significant collection of his own, which he has been building since childhood. For over a quarter of a century, until his recent retirement, James Opie was also editor and buyer for the Military and Aviation Book Society and various other book clubs. He has written seven previous books on various aspects of toy soldier collecting.

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